Five New Companies to Make Micro 4/3 Cameras – End of the DSLR?

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(Via PhotographyBlog) – Olympus have just announced that there will be five new companies that will be joining Olympus and Panasonic in making micro 4/3 cameras, lenses and gear; including JK Imaging (a US Based company that will manufacture cameras under the Kodak name), innovative digital cinema camera (aka Blackmagic Design – which has already launched a Micro Four Thirds model, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT), Photron (experts in high-speed digital imaging), German company SVS-VISTEK and Japan’s ViewPLUS.

Olympus states “With the addition of exciting new products from these companies, the Micro Four Thirds lineup will become much more diverse, further increasing the potential of this advanced digital imaging system.”

Here’s the Full Press release from Olympus, Japan

Blackmagic Design Pty. Ltd., JK Imaging Ltd., PHOTRON LIMITED, SVS-VISTEK GmbH and ViewPLUS Inc. join the Micro Four Thirds System Standard Group

Olympus Imaging Corp. and Panasonic Corporation jointly announced the Micro Four Thirds System standard in 2008 and have since been working together to promote the standard. Now we are pleased to announce that five more companies have recently declared their support for the standard and will be introducing products compliant with the Micro Four Thirds System standard.

Blackmagic Design Pty. Ltd., one of the world’s leading innovators and manufacturers of creative video technology; JK Imaging Ltd., new representative for the world-famous “KODAK” branded cameras; PHOTRON LIMITED, the world’s leading manufacturer of high speed digital imaging systems; SVS-VISTEK GmbH, an innovative company that develops professional machine vision components and systems and ViewPLUS Inc., a developer of advanced imaging-related equipment. With the addition of exciting new products from these companies, the Micro Four Thirds lineup will become much more diverse, further increasing the potential of this advanced digital imaging system.

My 2 Cents

Since Olympus and Panasonic “collaborated” to develop the micro 4/3 standard in 2008, these cameras have come a long way and have secured their position as one of, if not THE top mirrorless camera classification.  Some of the largest strides that have occurred over the last few years in sensor and processing technology (with a big assist from Sony) have taken place within the micro 4/3 realm, and there are more high quality yet affordable lenses available for micro 4/3 cameras than any other mirrorless camera system (well over 30 and counting).  These were just a few of the factors that led me to personally choose a micro 4/3 camera system after an exhaustive search for a camera that can shoot great still as well as great video (I was looking for a Hybrid Camera – read on for clarification).

The quality of these systems has now progressed to the point where higher end micro 4/3 cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 can legitimately be considered “Professional Level” systems.  They rival the image quality of larger, bulkier DSLR systems and IMHO, they blow DSLRs out of the water when it comes to video.  In other words, they’re better Hybrid Cameras (as underscored by MC Contributor Will Crockett in the video above.  Will is a photo/video innovator and a leading pioneer into a new era of Hybrid Photography who believes, as do I, that the new mirrorless systems are well on the way to replacing DSLRs.  You can read more about Hybrid Photography on DiscoverMirrorless.com).

So, What Does This all mean for Micro 4/3?

In my mind, the addition of five new manufacturers into micro 4/3 is a great thing and only serves to solidify the micro 4/3 standard.

One of the reasons that micro 4/3 systems and technology has progressed so far, so fast over the last few years can be summed up with one word…  competition.  Panasonic and Olympus have constantly been pushing each other to produce better and faster cameras with better image quality and better capabilities in all areas, resulting in some of the best cameras available over the last few years in just about any price range, from entry level to pro.  It’s also resulted in the arsenal of high quality lenses I mentioned earlier, which, whether they’re produced by Panasonic, Olympus or a 3rd party manufacturer like Sigma or Rokinon, are compatible with any micro 4/3 camera by any maker.  By adding 5 new manufacturers to the mix, it’ll be like pouring gasoline over a camera division that’s already on fire.

Here are My Picks for the Top Micro 4/3 Cameras

  1. Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Best Hybrid Camera on the Planet today.  Pro Level for stills and video.
  2. Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Great IQ.  5 Point IBIS. Classic Design.  Pro level street photography machine.
  3. Panasonic Lumix GH2 – Still one of the best video cameras around (now at a bargain price).  Great for the indie filmmaker who’s working on a budget.
  4. Panasonic Lumix G5 – Great Hybrid Camera that’s simple enough for a beginner, but advanced enough for a pro.
  5. Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 – Same sensor and image processor as the OM-D, but smaller and less expensive.
  6. Panasonic Lumix GX1 – 1 year old high end compact shooter that’s a great, go anywhere system for those who like high IQ stills and videos.  Now at a bargain price!
  7. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 – Same sensor and image processor as the OM-D, but a little smaller than the E-PL5 and with less on body controls.
  8. Panasonic Lumix GF5 – Powerful entry level into the micro 4/3 family.
  9. Olympus PEN E-P3 – A little older, but still gives great results.  Now at a low price.
  10. Panasonic Lumix GF3 – Another great bargain!

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